Chester Cheetah V. Doritos and Chance the Rapper: Finally a Hip Hop Beef to Believe In
For a long time, Hip Hop was fairly central to my life as well as my career. I spent a good decade as The A.V Club’s head Hip Hop writer from 1998 to 2008. I liked, and like, all kinds of music, particularly Hip Hop and Country. Hip Hop spoke my youthful alienation. It was my favorite kind of music. I tried to be a good citizen of the culture as an outsider but as I got older my relationship with Hip Hop grew increasingly distant.
I stopped reviewing new rap albums. I stopped going to shows regularly, or even semi-regularly. I stopped keeping an ear out for new artists and producers and trends and movements. Hip Hop increasingly felt like something that belonged in the past tense, something I used to adore but don’t really follow anymore.
When I discover a new Hip Hop act, something I do infrequently, they’re invariably rooted in Hip Hop’s past, like Czarface, a collaboration between 1990s rappers Inspectah Deck and 1990s independent rapper Esoteric or Esoteric’s crew Demigodz.
This week something magical happened that made me fall madly and instantly in love with Hip Hop as a culture and way of life all over again. I discovered a rapper of astonishing talent and charisma, a game-changer with the potential to be a 2Pac or Notorious B.I.G-like rapper and icon.
I haven’t fallen in love with a Hip Hop act this way since those giddy days I discovered MF DOOM, Quasimoto or Little Brother. And the crazy thing is that this renegade artist, this rap maverick wasn’t even known as a rapper even a month ago.
No, up until he got into the booth and decided to spit pure flames, this rap dynamo was known primarily as a cartoon mascot for bright orange snack food products the color of the president’s skin.
All my real Hip Hop heads, the ones who have been down since day one, know that I can only be talking about one pop-culture icon: Chester Cheetah, who recently made rap history, pop culture history and plain old history when, driven into a blind rage by Doritos putting out a “Flaming Hot” version of their signature snack chip, he released a diss track aimed squarely at his snack food rival and their big-name pitchman.
The impetus for this ferocious diss track, easily the equal of 2Pac’s “Hit Em Up” and Jay-Z’s “The Takeover” was a Super Bowl commercial featuring Chance the Rapper and boy band N’Sync singing, literally, the praises of this inferior, knock-off mouth-scalder. I’m not that familiar with Chance the Rapper. Judging by this commercial he raps mostly about derivative snack products alongside boy bands. That seems like kind of a weird, limited shtick. I’m not really sure how he got so popular or critically acclaimed.
Well, one person, or rather cartoon cheetah, doesn’t give a mad-ass fuck about how much acclaim or money or success Chance the Rapper has. Or rather, one cartoon cheetah mascot doesn’t give a mad-ass fuck. Shit, Chester doesn’t even mention Chance by name. Instead, he sneeringly refers to a “celeb” on a “remix song” knowing that Chance won’t even be a rapper, let alone a celeb or a superstar after he is lyrically destroyed by a CGI representation of a vaguely British snack food pimp.
When my boy spits, “You better watch the throne!/King Chesta, hottest cheetah that you’ve ever known/I’m extra flaming hot you can’t tell me nothing/I’m bringing back asteroids, think I’m bluffing?!?” this becomes the only acceptable response.
Rapping with the fury, skill and intensity of a young Rakim, Young King Chester destroys Doritos as a brand and Chance as a rapper. THIS is real hip hop. THIS is the essence. This takes hip hop back to 1988, to battling in the park and graffiti after dark.
Perhaps most impressively, “King” Chester became the first battle rapper in history to not resort to homophobic insults almost instantly.
You can’t say that you love REAL HIP HOP and not be invested in this battle. This battle is bringing Hip Hop back as an art form. I can confidently say that Chester the Cheetah is the most talented rapper since a young Nas.
I can’t wait to hear what this brilliant young maverick comes out with next. I know I can’t be alone in seeing him as nothing less than Hip Hop’s savior, a Christ figure sent from the good folks over at Frito-Lay to destroy the pretenders over at Doritos and save Hip Hop in the process.
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